Funded through the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund by John and Michele Truchard in honor of Jo Ann Truchard
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States. New research shows that colorectal cancer cases are increasing in younger age groups. We know that obesity is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer rates among younger adults, but we still don’t understand exactly how it works. Our research goal is to answer this important question. Obesity is mostly caused by unhealthy eating habits, including eating a diet rich in “bad fats”. First, we want to understand how healthy cells are damaged by “bad fats”. This is important because damages cells can produce harmful substances that cause cancer. “Bad fats” may also produce substances that feed harmful bacteria living in our intestines. These bacteria produce toxins that cause cancer. We will try to understand how the bad bacteria use this “food” to grow in the gut of obese individuals. This will help us show that “bad fats” cause cancer both by damaging cells and by feeding cancer-causing bacteria. If successful, our work will show how the dietary habits that lead to obesity can also cause colorectal cancer by damaging cells and feeding the growth of harmful bacteria. These findings will help us find new treatments for patients suffering from cancers caused by obesity.